Way Back into Korea

Way Back into Korea

A New Insight by a Native Anthropologist Come Home
by Choong Soon Kim

What has allowed South Korea to leap forward economically in so short a period of time? How have Koreans succeeded in building large automobile plants abroad, constructing the Great Man-Made River in Libya and making the world's most wired nation at the cutting edge of information technology? Why are so many Korean students enrolled in the finest universities of Europe and North America?

There have been many books that have grappled with Korean issues and Korean identity, but there is so much more to learn about Korea than you already know.

Discover the dynamics of modern Korea through the unique perspective of anthropologist Choong Soon Kim, a Korean national who found himself an outsider in his own country after many years spent abroad.


ILCHOKAK Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 
Trim Size: 
6 x 8.5
Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgment


1.    The Korean Ethos

         The Korean spirit of ppalli ppalli

         Historical circumstance and the Korean ethos

         The paradox of the Korean ethos


2.    Ethnic Origins of Koreans

         The Early History of Korea

         The Three Kingdoms period

         The Goryeo dynasty

         The Joseon dynasty


3.    Foreign Invasions and Korean Endurance

         Intrusions and invasions by hostile neighbors

         Threat from the West and Japanese colonization

         Japanese colonization and the independence movement

         Mobilization of Korean women for sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers


4.    A Long Road Toward Democracy

            Emotional burden of the memories on post-WWII atrocities and the Korean War

         The post-war power vacuum

         The general election and the birth of the Republic of Korea

         The Korean War

         The struggle for democracy


5.    Marriage, Family and Kinship

         Wild geese fathers, penguin fathers, and eagle fathers




         Kin group organization and kinship system


6.    Urbanization and a Balanced National Development Plan

         Villages as the center of social life in rural Korea

         Transformation of rural villages

         The changing paradigm of rural villages and their future prospects


7.    Religions and Beliefs of Koreans

         Inclusiveness and syncretism

         Korean native beliefs

         Foreign-born religions and new religions in Korea


8.    The Yangban Legacy and Education for Upward Mobility

         A historical survey of Korean social class

         Education for upward mobility

         Obsession with education in contemporary Korea

         New challenges for Korean education


9.    Korea’s Economic Miracle: From Foreign Aid Recipient to Donor

         Miraculous economic growth and rapid industrialization

         Economic maturity

         Becoming a donor of foreign aid


10.   Cultural Paradox

         The myth of ethnic nationalism and the emergence of multiculturalism

         Korean characteristic of inwardness versus outward-oriented activities

         Environmental conservation and restoration

         Persistent Confucianism and a female president


References Cited

List of Abbreviations


About the Author(s)

Choong Soon Kim was born in Haejeo-ri, Bonghwa-eup, Bonghwa-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do of South Korea. After completing a doctoral course at Yonsei University in 1965, he furthered his studies in the United States. He received an M.A. in Sociology from Emory University, a Ph. D. in Anthropology from the University of Georgia, and taught at the University of Tennessee for 30 years (1971-2001). He served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (1981-1991), University Faculty Scholar (1991-2001), Senior Fulbright Scholar in lecture and research (1989-1990, 1993-1994), and Scholar in Residence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Belagio Study Center, Italy (1990).

Since his return to Korea in 2002, he has been active in many areas, including the teaching of Hangeul to foreigners living in Korea.